I've had diabetes for more than 16 years. In all those years, my D has been mostly a long-running show of daily baloney (shots, infusion sets, what-have-you) that I could handle on my own or routine doctor visits to get my A1c, an eye exam, or something else rather run of the mill for your average PWD.
I've heard other people's horror stories of lows where they couldn't take care of themselves, glucagon kits being used, waking up in the hospital, 911 calls, on and on with all the terrible things that we all worry about and try to prepare for. And I, too, have done the worrying and the preparation. I have glucagon kits, I wear my Dexcom religiously, I do fingersticks before driving or going to sleep -- I take all those steps. In the back of my head, though, since I've never come close to having something terribly scary happen, I always wondered "What cataclysmic event would need to occur for that to happen to me?" You see, since I'd gone 16 years without a life-threatening D episode, I guess I figured I'd just keep dodging that bullet -- I was a lucky PWD, apparently, and this wasn't something that would actually ever happen.
And then there was yesterday.
I spent the majority of the day at a bridal shower for a dear friend of mine -- lots of celebrating, lots of food, lots of prosecco. Unfortunately, there was also a rather persistent mountain on my Dexcom. My BG was coasting for hours in the mid and upper 200s and, instead of waiting patiently for the insulin on board to do its job, I made the stupid mistake of rage bolusing...in a stack.
At the end of the party, I'd become rather weepy -- I'd chalked it up to the high emotion of the event, but everyone else was rather sure I was drunk. My slurring and inability to walk in a straight line probably confirmed their suspicions, and even I'd have said I was feeling a little tipsy. Not drunk, of course, but tipsy. And that should have been my clue that something wasn't right. Everyone was acting like I was far more drunk than my actual prosecco consumption warranted, but I just decided they were being silly and I left with my ride for the train station. Without doing a blood sugar beforehand.
I don't know what my blood sugar was when I got in the car. I don't know what it was for the first ten minutes of that ride. I was just fighting to stay awake, thinking maybe I was a little more tipsy than I thought. When my poor brain finally thought "Hmm. This is BAD. Maybe we should do a blood sugar," I was at 39. Trying to stay upright, trying not to scare the poor girl who got stuck driving me to the train station, I scarfed tabs as quickly as I could without gagging. Fifteen minutes later, I was at 35. More scarfing, and now I'm panicked because I'm just so very sleepy and those tabs are gross and all I wanted to do was close my eyes. But part of my brain knew that would be a very bad idea. So I tested again -- 39 -- and, out of tabs now, started scraping frosting off the cupcake I'd brought home for B. At this point, my friend is worried and asks if she should drive me to the hospital. Obviously, since I'm not a PWD who needs the hospital, I say no, I'll be fine, let's just get to the station.
It's all very hazy now, of course. I remember that drive in little bits, like a dream that's just on the edge of your memory when you wake up. I know I was dropped off at the station, I know I bought apple juice, I know I called B all upset, I know I got on the right train and exited at Grand Central. I don't remember how I did those things, I just know I did.
I also know that B was waiting for me when I arrived in Manhattan, and I couldn't stop crying when he found me. I'd narrowly avoided something horrible -- I felt that in my bones -- and I was scared.
I have rerun the scenario in my head a thousand times now, and I know there were countless opportunities to prevent what happened. I made huge mistakes yesterday, and have learned a valuable lesson from the whole episode: I'm not a PWD who doesn't need the hospital -- I'm just a PWD who hasn't needed the hospital yet.